A Letter From a Cuban Who Left

By Luis Rondon Paz

Photo: Ernesto Gonzalez
Photo: Ernesto Gonzalez

HAVANA TIMES — The decision to leave Cuba has been an extremely recurrent issue here for over the last 30 years. Last July, when I traveled to Europe, I had the opportunity to meet somebody who chose this path firsthand.

When I read his farewell letter, I felt the need to make his words public, as I believe that this is an issue that deeply affects many people, who for many different reasons have chosen to leave or stay on the island.

In this case, I believe that human existence and the impossibility to bear/wait for changes that won’t become tangible anytime soon in the Cuban system-society, were the driving force behind this young Cuban questioning his role and feeling the strong need to seek out his freedom in other lands.

Here, I publish his farewell letter:

Fellow Cubans, brothers and sisters, friends

The idea of returning to Cuba is something that terrifies me. I’ve reached the point of no return where I no longer know how to live without freedom. I face the same dilemma as Quilombo where my ancestors once lived. I can just about explain to myself the meaning of life under a dictatorship. I thank everybody from the heart for the experiences we’ve shared together, but I don’t want to return to this island that has been kidnapped by an ideology that despises the diversity of human nature. 

I must confess that, this has been the most important journey in my life; I have never understood what reality and dreams are really made of in such a short time (…).

I must tell you that my tolerance limit of the ostracism and madness that reigns over our island has now surpassed the threshold. It is with great pain that I write farewell to the land of my parents and my first loves. I’ve left the things that were kindly given to me and some simple presents in my room.

I’m afraid of returning to Cuba and that by some act of magic, the literary testimony that I’ve been inscribing into my soul over all these years disappears. When I left Havana, I carried seven unpublished books in my suitcase and I don’t want to put them in a drawer until the King dies.

A strong hug.  I wish you all the best of luck in your own journeys.

Luis Rondón

Luis Rondon Paz: Activist, Queer, computer scientist, actor, photographer, student and apprentice journalist. Originally from Santiago de Cuba. I believe that people are life projects in constant transformation. I am consistent and responsible for my actions, committed to just causes and a lover of good deeds. Today I write about Cuba in exile, free of psychological torture and persecution of the Cuban dictatorship.

19 thoughts on “A Letter From a Cuban Who Left

  • who would think that today I was exactly in the same situation?

  • I agree with Ronin that “the ruling elite in any nation always prosper much better than the working class, regardless of their respective political systems.” Human nature is that people in power with access to money are going to enrich themselves, some by just a little and others by a lot. In a socialist system there seems to be little politicial or economic hindrance to this in the form of free elections, free press to investigate graft by the government or business, or the ultimate collapse of a business, which to me is like natural selection in biology (the strong survive and reproduce/expand). I believe there need to be controls on how capitalism is practiced (antitrust/antimonopolistic laws, for example), but that overall survival of the fittest from a business perspective benefits more people and advances national productivity, innovation, technology, availability of products that are actually needed, etc. far more than any socialist approach. By the way, I live in Nicaragua right now, a country (like Venezuela) led by disciples of Fidel Castro. A country that innovates in nothing, does not hold open elections, and is heavily dependent on charitable support from the outside, largely the US.

  • Medicine and food are exempted. As of October 17, so are cigars and rum. The question of whether or not I am human is more a reflection of you than me.

  • Kennedy, medicines are an exception to the embargo since I believe 2001 along with food products. Medical equipment is another story.

  • Moses, you well know that medicines are banned under the embargo which is criminal, heartless and genocidal. Where is the concern for your fellow men when you can support the illegal embargo which places the lives of little babies who cannot access medicines only 90 miles away, but has to wait for days or weeeks to obtain that medicine? Are you a human being my friend? Do not attempt to minimize the enormous effect the criminal, illegal and genocidal embargo has on the Cuban people. It is against the Charter of the United Nations. Why have a United Nations when its Charter can be breached with impunity, without any sanctions being imposed on the perpetrator? This seems to be the LAW of the jungle and not the LAW of civilized human beings and you support this brother?

  • The purchase of medicine is allowed under the US embargo.

  • No one in Cuba goes to bed hungry? …Not my recollection.

  • Ronin my brother, How many are homeless in the land of the rich and plenty? No one in Cuba goes to bed hungry. No one in Cuba sleeps on the streets shelter less. The Cubans beg for medicines from their families in USA because of the embargo. They the family could send it through some second or third avenue, but the Cuban Government would have to purchase it from a third country because the embargo prohibits trade between the USA and Cuba. Cuba is restricted from using the US Currency from transacting business internationally. Goods which could be purchased from 90 miles away have to be purchased thousands of miles away. Are there no concern for the many lives which have been lost trying to run away to the so-called promised land which ends up being a real disappointment to many on arrival there?

  • You hit nail right on the head “Brother Moses.” 🙂
    How does being educated & disease free put food in your stomach?

    And if such great health care system exists, then why do we keep getting requests for medicine from our Cuban friends? AND i have met many Cubans who dropped out of high school so they could make money and help their family.

    I agree with you Moses, I was thinking the same exact thing- crack. 🙂

  • “The socialist plan is to level the playing ground”?????!!!!!!l Level it for whom exactly??? Do you honestly think that the heads of various organizations in Cuba have the benefits & are taking home the same amount as the farmer plowing the fields. Time to wake up mister. The ruling elite in any nation always prosper much better than the working class, regardless of their respective political systems.

    I don’t dispute that there are problems here in the U.S. and I do agree that life is not as easy as the rest of the world thinks it is here. Money doesn’t grow on trees here, but if one has the drive and dedication, and with a lot of hard work they too could persevere and perhaps become one of those “CEO’s.”

    Yes, here in the U.S. we have poverty, but if with a lot of hard work, you can pull out of that poverty and be able to maintain a middle class life. The possibilities are endless.

    My family and I are immigrants from Asia(1976), and we literally had nothing when we started out. We all worked at least 2 jobs and sometimes 3 just to be able to survive and pay the bills. We endured some hardships of course, but that lasted for less than 10 years. Now we have two doctors, and accountant, a nurse, a social worker, and a bus driver in the family. And we all used to live in the same apartment, but now everyone has their own home. Each one of us has been in their own profession for over 30 years now. As you can see we have a diverse line of professoins in the family and that was by personal choice and of course the doctors in the family have larger homes than the bus driver or the social worker. (To each his own.)

    The point of my family’s story is to emphasize that although there is poverty in the U.S. (and a host of many other issues), you have a personal choice here and you can navigate your way out, if you chose to do so.

    So you have been to Cuba a total of 15 times in a span of 37 years, well I too have been to Cuba about 16 times since 2010. My trips have been very diverse in destinations. After the first several trips, I purposely avoided “tourist spots,” and stayed off the beaten path. On one such trips I even volunteered as a farmhand in Pinar del Rio province for a month.

    Your claim that “There is more really dire poverty in the USA than you will find in Cuba,” is ludicrous and shows your lack of knowledge of the circumstances in Cuba. Now I am not putting Cuba down at all, in fact I am very fond of Cuba, the Cuban culture, and the many people I have befriended throughout my travels. But you sir are way off base.

    This article by Luis is a story of how one immigrant felt about leaving his homeland, which is rarely a pleasant decision or experience. And obviously he is not alone in deciding to leave as evident with all the people that tempt fate by crossing the Florida Strait on make shift boats, or the recent rash of people attempting to navigate their way through Central America and Mexico to get to the promise-land (or at least that’s what they believe).

  • At more than 95% income tax rate, education and health services are far from free in Cuba. Actually, quite a few countries outpace Cuba’s “scholarship” program. HOWEVER, if what you meant to say was, FOR ITS SIZE, Cuba should be commended, then I would agree. Finally, you write, “the country which freed mankind from the threat of ignorance and disease- the total liberation of mankind!!!” Wow, you really gotta’ stop commenting here at HT and smokin’ crack at the same time. That’s just nonsense.

  • There is an old saying about the many people in this world not reaching rheir potential and dying “with their song still unsung”. Here, the author publishes a story about someone who needs to leave the island so his many stories, written over a lifetime, could be told. To remain on the island would amount to a spiritual death so long as the “king” remaind alive; a story unsung. ….you should comment on that.

  • Yes Brother Moses! The access to Free Education, First Class Medical Attention, are Basic Necessities, for, when I am liberated from ignorance and disease, the likes of you cannot come to me spewing any propaganda, for I would know who works in my best interest, for he who has liberated me from ignorance and disease with which I have been saddled for centuries, is my best friend for life. If you detest his effort, if you decry his success, it means that you bear no love, no repect for my dignity as a human being; it means that you want to continue oppressing, exploting and sujugating me.

    Your interpretation of freedom is the material worth of a person. I totally disagreee with you, for, for me to accumulate untold wealth, I would have to exploit my brothers and my sisters. There is a murderous embargo imposed on Cuba since 1960 and look at the many scholarships the country has presented to students of THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES? CAN any capitalist country match this Educational Effort? Point me to one of them.

    Cubans blood soaked the earth of Africa in their liberation of Angola and Namibia when these two countries were fighting for their Independence from Apartheid South Africa which was supported by the USA in their quest to keep them enslaved so that they could be robbed of their mineral wealth. Is Cuba a failed country? Noo! It will be recorded as the country which freed mankind from the threat of ignorance and disease- the total liberation of mankind!!! The total dignity of the human spirit!!

  • Brother Raven, I am very supportive of your comments on Havana Times which always depict Cuba in a negative light. How can any country infringe on a person’s human rights when that person can access free education and first class medical attention,, the two most basic elements in the maitenance of the human dignity and the human spirit? The people of the USA have individual freedoms but that individual freedom lands them homeless on the streets in the dead of winter without shelter, without medical attention without a Thanksgiving dinner or even a Christmas meal, huddling around a makeshift fire to keep warm, whilst those who have robbed them of their labour enjoy all the comforts of life.

    The Cuban authorities are endeavouring to level the playing field but is being hindered from doing so, due to the murderous economic enbargo imposed upon the country1960-2016 (56 years). Cuba cannot even use the Us Currency to tranact International business. The Cuban Government is intent on building a more humane society, but there are those who believe that they alone must live and the rest of us must thrive in poverty and die like dogs! Can the CEO of any company perform all the tasks in the business?

    The answer is an emphatic “NOOO!” So, why the inequality in pay? Isn’t it better if the capitalist system be viewed as a TEAM WORK EFFORT, with each person working for the success of the business and with every one sharing the profits of the business? Just imagine workers working for minimum wages for over 20 years with the price of goods shyrocketing astronomically, with the CEO’S receiving their bonuses and the shareholders raking in huge profits on their shares, but the workers who bear the brunt of the task being left out in the cold?. What kind of uncaring, inhumane, unjust system is this? Having its people out in the dead of winter, shelterless, homeless and hungrily starved?

    Is this a case of “Who have have, have and to hell with those who do not have? After the exploitation of our fellow men and women and the accumulation of all this wealth, our uncaring attitude to those who are less fortunate than us, our failure to reach out and touch, what do we take with us on our deathly journey?

  • Basic necessities? In Cuba? When was the last time you were there? 1989?

  • Are you nuts? ….stacks up quite well…? Which stack is that? Open and independent elections? Freedom of speech? Independent media? How about the quality, quantity and availability of toilet paper? Your anti-US bias is your right. But creating your own reality to support your biases is pathetic.

  • I see that you only print comments which are totally critical of the Cuban government. It certainly has its failings but stacks up quite well against much of the USA current situation.

  • I fully understand the frustration associated with living in Cuba. However I fear that many could be unhappily surprised with life in the USA. The socialist plan is to aim at a level playing ground while the capitalist ideology has no such constraint. Unfortunately in the latter society really extreme inequality can develop as has now occurred in the USA . Where a CEO used to take home about 20 to 30 times as much as the average worker, that ratio is now commonly 250 or more. The groundswell of discontent that this is fueling accounts for a good deal of the support being offered to Mr Trump. When the assets of one family in the US exceed the total of the bottom 42% of their fellow citizens it is becoming an unsustainable society . There is more really dire poverty in the USA than you will find in Cuba. I have visited Cuba some fifteen times since 1979 and in touring all over the island have been aware of the changing activity and gradual easing of burdensome control. So to the average Cuban, enjoying at least the basic necessities I would advise you to look carefully before you leap!

  • Sad stuff and not uncommon. The Cuban system of government and economics is a total failure witnessed by so many who have left. I too am sickened by the nonsense that is written to see Cuba before it changes!

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